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AIRPORTS FLAP ENSNARES FILM; CITY AGENCY SHUTS DOWN SHOOT IN SQUABBLE WITH HANGAR TENANTS.

Byline: Tony Knight Daily News Staff Writer

A major Hollywood movie production got caught up Tuesday in the simmering feud between a Van Nuys Airport upholsterer and the city Department of Airports when the city temporarily halted filming at an airport hangar.

The production about ballroom dancing, titled ``Shut Up and Dance'' starring Vanessa Williams and Kris Kristofferson, got tripped up because film producers wouldn't provide Airports Department officials with a copy of their sublease with hanger tenants Syncro Aircraft Interiors.

After some fancy footwork and an assist from Mayor Richard Riordan's office and the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., the production resumed after losing only half a day of shooting.

The film's producers, who spent six frantic hours on the phone trying to dance their way out of the bureaucratic mix-up, said they felt like they had become pawns in the ongoing battle between Syncro and Airports Department bureaucracy.

``We were held hostage,'' said producer Lauren Weissman. ``It was an expensive victimization.''

Cody Cluff, executive director of the development corporation and Riordan's emissary to the film industry, said he urged the filmmakers to give the city a copy of their contract.

``I think to some degree they probably are caught up in the Syncro flap,'' Cluff said. ``I'd definitely give the city a copy of the contract.''

Jonathan Slater, location manager for the company, Ballroom Dancer Production Co., said their lawyers advised them to keep the contract private. The company had filmed at the same location in May and the Airports Department had not asked for a copy of the contract.

Syncro has been at the center of a major controversy since last March when airports officials served the airplane upholstery company with an eviction notice.

Syncro owners Ed and Barbara Cesar have built up a thriving business at the old World War II-era hangar, running their business in one corner of the three-acre facility and subleasing the remainder for productions such as ``Batman and Robin'' and ``True Lies.''

The Cesars have been fighting the eviction and won a hearing Friday before the Board of Airport Commissioners in which department attorneys accused the Cesars of filing false claims for work done to improve the hangar.

With the eviction held in abeyance, the Cesars were ordered to turn over their sublease agreements for the inspection of the airports officials. But so far they have not turned over the documents, said Assistant City Attorney Bret Lobner.

Lobner said the Airports Department halted the shooting until the filmmakers agreed to provide additional insurance information, but he acknowledged that the department also is seeking a copy of their contract with Syncro.

Slater said the insurance information was turned over before shooting was halted, and permission was given to resume shooting.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO ``Shut Up and Dance'' is set to roll again after being held up for half a day Tuesday at a Van Nuys Airport hangar.

David R. Crane/Daily News
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 30, 1997
Words:489
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